State: Minnesota – MN

Published on August 13th, 2015 | by Brandon Ramsey in Geography


The state abbreviation for Minnesota is MN, it located in the Midwestern United States, but is situated very far north on the border of Canada. It is the 32nd of the 50 U.S. States in terms of when it was admitted to the Union.

Today we’re going to delve deep into the geography, climate, flora, and fauna of this great state. Before we do that though, here are some key points to know about MN:

  • Capital: Saint Paul
  • Largest City: Minneapolis
  • Nickname(s): The Land of 10,000 Lakes, the North Star State, The Gopher State.
  • Motto: L’Etoile du Nord (French for “The Star of the North”)
  • Admitted to the Union: May 11, 1858 (32nd state)
  • Time zone: Central: UTC -6/-5
  • State Bird: Common loon
  • Butterfly: Monarch
  • Fish: Walleye
  • Flower(s): Pink-and-white lady’s slipper
  • Tree: Norway pine
  • State Flag
  • Official Website: mn.gov

map of Minnesota in the United States

State Overview: MN

The state’s name comes from a Dakota word which means “clear blue water.” This was chosen because of the numerous lakes in the state, which also earned it the nickname “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” While it is the 12th largest and 21 most populated state, most of the people live exclusively in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area.

This area, known as the “Twin Cities” is the heart of the state’s transportation, business, industry, education, and government. It is also where an internationally recognized art community is located. Beyond this major area, the rest of MN is composed of prairies and deciduous forests where agriculture is a major focus.

It is a place known for having unique social and political representations. This results in a high rate of participation and voter turnout during elections. Prior to colonization, the area was inhabited by the Ojibwe and Anishinaabe tribes, along with Dakota tribe.

Original immigrants consisted of people from Scandinavia and Germany which has resulted in a modern culture reminiscent of these places.

Recent years have brought people from Asia, the Horn of Africa, and Latin America, which has diversified the local population. The standard of living here is among the highest in the U.S.  The people of the state are also some of the best-educated and wealthiest in the nation.

map of Minnesota

Geography, Geology, and Climate

While Alaska is the northernmost state, Minnesota is a close second. The Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods county is the only part of the 48 contiguous states that is located north of the 49th parallel. It is part of a region known as the Upper Midwest and is also included in the Great Lakes Region.

Lake Superior forms a water border between it and Michigan, and one with Wisconsin in the east. To the south is Iowa, and to the west is North Dakota and South Dakota. To the north of the state are the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.

In total, there is 86,943 square miles that make up MN, which comes out to 2.25 percent of the United States.  Ranked with the others, it is the 12th largest. This is also where you will find many of the oldest rocks on Earth.

For example, Gneisses are roughly 3.6 billion years old, which is 80% as old as the planet itself! Roughly 2.7 billion years ago, the primordial ocean released basaltic lava through cracks in the floor. This volcanic rock is what created the Canadian Shield in the northeast portion of the state.

Further activity from these volcanoes and the Precambrian seas contributed to form the Iron Range in northeastern MN. Since then, the volcanic activity in the area has been nonexistent.

The nickname referring to 10,000 lakes isn’t exaggerated by the way: there are 11,842 Minnesota lakes over 10 acres in size. The portion of Lake Superior within the state is the largest at 962,700 acres.

The Mississippi River begins at Lake Itasca and crosses the border of Idaho over 680 miles downstream. The first state park in MD is located here. It was established in 1891. It is one of 72 state parks, and 58 state forests that make up a total of four million acres. All of these locations are managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The continental climate of MN results in temperature extremes. The highest temperature recorded was 174 Fahrenheit and the lowest was -60 Fahrenheit.

Native Flora and Fauna

There are four major ecological areas in Minnesota:

  • Prairie Parkland (in the southwestern and western regions)
  • Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Big Woods in the southeast)
  • Tallgrass Aspen Parkland (Northwestern region)
  • Laurentian Mixed Forest (Transitional forest from north to south)

A large portion of the state’s northern forests underwent logging to the point where only a few patches of the old growth forests still remain. Places like the Chippewa National Forest and the Superior National Forest still have some of the old growth forest.

In total, there is about 1/3 of the state that is still forested. There are some species of flora here though that are listed on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service list of endangered species:

  • Prairie bush-clover
  • Western Prairie Fringed Orchid
  • Leedy’s roseroot.
  • Dwarf trout lilly

The existence of farming, grazing, logging, and suburban development has disrupted a number of habitats for species like the pine marten, elk, woodland caribou, and bison. Despite this, species like whitetail deer and bobcat continue to thrive. MN also has the largest population of timber wolves outside of Alaska.

There are stable populations of black bear, moose, and gophers. The Mississippi Flyway is where you will find migratory species of waterfowl like geese and ducks. There are also game birds here like grouse, pheasants, and turkeys.

The largest number of breeding bald eagles in the lower 48 states were also here as of 2007.  Populations of red-tailed hawks and snowy owls are also found here. Looking to the many lakes in the state, there are species of walleye, bass, muskellunge, and northern pike fish found here. In the rivers and streams various species like brook, brown, and rainbow trout are also found.

Final Thoughts

Minnesota has a lot of characteristics that make it unique. The extreme northern location does create a harsh climate at times, but once you’ve read our list of Minnesota state facts, you’ll find that there’s even more to love about this place!

Thanks as always for reading and be sure to tell us about your own experiences with this state in the comments below!

printable map of Minnesota



About the Author
Brandon Ramsey

Brandon Ramsey is the head author and editor of The Time Now Blog. Be sure to follow us via social media!


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